Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Cream of the Crop

When we tell people we have a cow...we really mean: "we have cream." and that is what explains the undertones of heart-fluttering excitment and annunciated syllables.
We had all these gallons of honey's milk stored up the fridge...storing her milk was like going to a high school dance...and ignoring the one girl or guy we went there to see and be with...too much of a crush...but as you go about the room, all your thoughts are on that oh-so-special someone...that's how it is with those 5 inch layers of cream that rise to the top of the jars after 24 hours....
Till one day you get up the nerve, and armed with a little 1/3 measuring cup you reverently remove all your stored up jars of milk from the fridge, line them up on the table, and skim the glorping heavy cream from the tops. Into a quart jar (or two) it goes. And then it's settling in for 15 minutes of shaking while watching the rain fall...and worrying over the bits of hail...and then before you know it you can't hear any sloshing...that's when you know you are close. Soon the butter "breaks" and the nice yellow lumpage is shlumping around in buttermilk. Drain the buttermilk into another save for pancakes or stirring into cream to make sour cream...then pour cold water into the jar, and shake some more. Your aim is to rinse the butter, so that all the buttermilk is out. Too much buttermilk in the butter causes it to go rancid sooner...Repeat and Repeat...and soon you have a nice lump of butter which you squeeze in your hands, place into a bowl and press with a spoon to release more this point you can mix in salt in you wish, or leave it sweet and unsalted. Wrap in parchment paper...and tie with a piece of pink yarn.
Fresh butter makes everything you make with it taste creamier. Smoother. More refined.
You will instantly leap the class chasm. From peasant to aristocrat in one afternoon.
It accounts for why we pamper Honey. Even the little red hen who has hatched out 9 little chicks keeps close to her...she understands where the luxury in life comes from. She is teaching her little ones to scratch in honey's droppings and take advantage of any spilt grain from her milking time treat...
This is really the reason we have keep cows in!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


You too can live the dream...for a couple of hours on SATURDAY the 27th of MAY!
10 am to 2 pm
bring your garden rakes and a dish to pass for lunch.
All ages welcome. It's so much fun you're lucky we're letting you come for free!
Email with questions:
In the event of rain we will all be playing
"PRETEND YOU're ON An OLD FASHIONED CHAIN GANG" in which we pick up rocks from the CSA field and pile them in a heap.

Love Letters

" A young fellow wantin' a start in life just needs three things: a piece of land, a cow and a wife. And he don't strictly need that last"
-old saying
Cows and wives have been rather important on the historic joined Monson family farms.
Growing up the Monson brothers were responsible for milking 14 cows every morning and night alongside all the other farm chores of digging potatoes, planting corn, single horse plowing, and scything hay. Julius would later move to Scandia and install a state of the art milking parlor, the first of it's kind at the time. Visitors would come from miles around to admire it and learn from it. Mauritz built the barn that stands today overlooking our sheep and goats for his dairy herd from the tops of pilings from the old Stillwater bridge over the St. Croix River.
Last week the pigs made it known to us in no uncertain terms that we would have to get ourselves a milk cow if we were to keep them contented and personable. They also reminded us that we were breaking with historic president by not having a cow on the place...
So when we brought "Honey" home it was no surprise how the general appearance of the place seemed to brighten a little. Suddenly the stall in the barn gleamed with respectability. The cow is the grand dame of the farmyard. She is the most sensative of all the animals. In her book Keeping a Family Cow" Joann Grohman alludes to studies which indicate that cows certainly prefer classical music to rock...she eggs the unsuspecting on to devouring copious amounts of cream as "cream is very valuable nutritionally. It contains all the vitamin A or beta carotene in milk." Not that we needed any coaxing. When we found a good 6 inches of cream on top of one of our half-gallon jars this morning in the fridge we found many excuses for multiple samplings. Our three year old interrupted a conversation to solemnly declare that "Honey" must stand for "Honeysuckle Rose", and given that she seems most in tune to what the sheep, chickens, pigs, and goats are thinking these days, we respectively complied.
In the 1930s and 40s, David and Mauritz Monson raised potatoes in the same field we've been transplanting into these past few weeks. David would wake early on May mornings and harness the horses...Mauritz would follow after the morning chores on his tractor...
Coming and going from milking Honey, the newest addition to the Little Flower Farm family, and out in the field burying the tomato transplants up to their necks we run into the ghosts of memory. We are walking the same paths, doing the same tasks on the farm, at the same pace, as they have done before us decades ago...back when "taking in a radio show" was something to write about in a letter to a loved one. The work is hard. The pleasures are simple. But the work itself rolls us on in its seasonal rythmn, and the pleasures...of cool Jersey cream on a hot afternoon, freshly baked bread cooling on the kitchen table, and a good grooming session with Maj and Marta after a morning's work in the field...are sweet.
David's love letters to his sweetheart, Esther, are a testament to the slow and steady beauty of life in the country, life on the land. They are as full of the farm as they are of his care and devotion. They wrote eachother for nearly 10 years before she finally set a date for their wedding. In summer the ripe strawberries and melons on the farm had David wishing Esther were here in Marine on St. Croix...He wrote of village base ball games, Homemade icecream on the 4th of July, fattening hogs, scything hay, and a deep confindence in a generous God and a bounteous land. Esther, a farm girl herself, in Parker's Prairie,MN raised prize-winning turkeys and worked in the fields and in the barn milking alongside the men. In her journal, under July 4th of 1935 she wrote that David had visited and asked "Esther when will the blessed day be?" amidst embraces and kisses and prayers to the good Lord above. 10 days before their wedding day, June 9th of 1938 David was kicked in the head by his favorite horse while tending to a food wound. He nearly died of his injuries...decade long span of letter writing would be taken up by his Brothers and sister, who wrote to Esther every day from the hospital, updating her as to David's condition. Their wedding day came and went. Finally on June 19th 1938 David and Esther married, and were "riced" and "chivareed" in style! They would move to Oak Hill Farm and continue working the land between the orignal family home and Mauritz's new farm where Little Flower Farm is today. It was only after Esther died of cancer in the 60s that David sold his cows. The work of the farm was a shared endeavor, and its heart had gone from it when she passed on.
I think of them often in those quite moments milking in the evening. Seven O'clock. The girls are upstairs brushing teeth and pulling on pajamas. They are picking out their favorite fairy tales and picture books. I stand in the stall stroking Honey while Shane milks to the undulating rythmn of 4 teat percussion. She's taking big pulls from her pile of hay and a few hens are poking around for some loose grain from her is a rare moment for us to be together alone....almost. We are both leaning into the flank of the farm. Satisfied in the daily work of it. Perpetuated by the solid and shared experience of life on the land. If one of us speaks it is only to find out that the other of us was thinking the same thing. Honey turns her head to eye us with her big moooning eyes. Shane hands me the bucket of fresh milk to strain and cool with the same affection as if he'd handed me a bouquet and a box of chocolates...
We're always asking that same question of David's: "Oh when will that blessed day be?" for shares to come in, for sheep to birth, for our work to be done, for the cream to rise, for the bread to bake....Here on this farm the answer comes back to us again and again: yesterday. tomorrow. Today.
We are running into the ghosts of memory. In the stall. Down the Lane. In the field.
And we nod to eachother in mutual agreement. There is such pleasure in the kind of unity that spans generations in the same home place.

Friday, May 11, 2012

rainbow over little flower farm CSA veggie field
"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to
live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in
common hours. "
Henry David Thoreau
This is the quote you refer to when well-intending people tell you a small family chocolate (er, cocoa) farm is impossible in the frigid North.

Monday, May 7, 2012


If you would like to help us spread the word at your workplace, email us at
and we'll send you a stack of our SPIFFY flyers!


Lamb and chevre shares still available in limited quanitity.
Print our Meat and Dairy Share info page off to mark down your orders and send it in with your check to reserve!

Friday, May 4, 2012

May Days

We've been spending so much time lately, out in the field, in the sun, in the rain, in the wind, in the dirt...we're starting to feel like plants ourselves...slow and clumsy with people, preoccupied with the business of growing. 2 days ago we looked up from our grubby work in the kitchen garden and realized that the 2nd of May had bloomed like a Prokofiev Ballet overture. There she was, all green and glowing. White violets on the hillside, dandelion buttons in the ditches, and two buttery yellow chicks hatched underneath their mama in her not so secret nest beneath the rabbit hutches. Oh me, Oh May!
With just 4 weeks left before our first CSA boxes arrive on our members' kitchen tables, it is east to forget bone weary exaustion with all the dazzling beauties the 5th month has in store for us.
This is the month we rediscover the sense of smell. A slow drive down Judd St. Marine on St. Croix, and you are greeted with the new blooms of dogwood and lilac, and the mossy scent of mysterious river plants shooting up and unfurling.
Much to the happy relief of our anxious and patient chevre fans, Lupe gave birth to triplets one week ago. 2 doelings and a buck. They spend most of their time trying to imitate the antics of their older cousin, and falling asleep in a heap of long floppy ears and glossy little bodies.
We shall soon be a-float in that rich, creamy, high butterfat content Nubian milk...a land fat and flowing with milk and honey.


Zita birthed a beautiful set of twins yesterday, in the woods. Brother and sister. We pulled the warm slimy sacs off of them, and to the music of her soft nickering, wiped them down and stood back to admire the workings of maternal instinct, first breaths, and wobbly knees. May is the month of bewildered gratitude.